Published May 12, 2014If you hold Marta Pacek's new record up to your ear, you can almost hear the ocean. Which is to say that you can take the alt-folk songstress out of Australia but you can't take the Australia out of her music. Pacek might be known for her early work with Mark Seymour, frontman of the Australian rock band Hunters & Collectors, but with her third full-length album, recorded in Brooklyn with producer Brad Albetta (Martha Wainwright, Glen Hansard), this talented, award-winning, well-traveled singer-songwriter, who now divides her time between Melbourne and Toronto, is not so quietly making a name for herself in North America.
Voodoo Dolls and False Alarms has the rustic, sunburned feel of a long drive down the coast, while the album's title, along with songs like "The Hunted," "Sometimes You Lose" and "Not Leaving Here Alone" suggest that unhappiness, possibly a breakup, precipitated the journey. Standout, radio-friendly tracks like "One Day," co-written with Todd Clark (Pilot Speed, Goo Goo Dolls) and the Stevie Nicks-sounding "All I Need," on the other hand, confirm that Pacek's not about to give in or wait around. In fact, there's an impressive level of redemption here for an album of heartbreak, melancholy and disillusion.
Pacek experiments this time around with a range of sounds, cultivating a hometown-friendly surf-rock aesthetic at times and layering in Albetta's electronic drum beats at others, and while none of it seems out of place, the strength of Pacek's voice, her charisma and her songwriting are almost certainly enough to support more stripped down, acoustic arrangements. Case in point: the diamonds-and-rusty "Pass Me Over." Pacek's personal, wistful songs are hard to resist. (Independent)